How to improve mental health in the workplace
How to improve mental health in the workplace. According to gov.ie, approximately one in four people in Ireland will experience some kind of mental health issue within their lifetime.
Thankfully, mental health is no longer the ‘taboo’ subject it once was. Most of us are now aware of the importance of taking good care of ourselves both physically and mentally. However, when life gets busy, many of us are also guilty of ignoring this wisdom and pushing ourselves to our limits without a thought.
Our lives look quite different since the COVID-19 pandemic. We still live with the stress and uncertainty of an infection that continues to impact our society. War, and the threat of recession are ever present in the media. Together with rising cost levels, bad news is becoming hard to avoid, causing many of us to experience continual underlying stress.
Mental health in business
Taking good care of our mental health must now be a bigger priority than ever. There are lots of ways we can help ourselves as individuals, but how can we take better care of the people around us, particularly when it comes to business?
Focusing on improved mental health in the workplace is not only beneficial for the people who work there, but it can have positive impacts on the business too.
A happy, healthy workforce leads to greater productivity, improved morale, reduced sick days off, and better staff retention, to name but a few.
As an employer, you can take a few simple steps to help and support your staff, benefiting everyone in the workplace. Here are our top recommendations:
Mental health programs
As an employer, you should offer sources of support in the form of Employee Assistance Programs.
These supports can be tailored to suit the needs of your employees, some ideas you could include are:
- One-on-one sessions
- Human Resource support
- Regular mental health surveys and assessments
Make it clear that use of these programs is encouraged, and will be treated in the strictest of confidence.
Source and prominently display mental health helpline details, and provide access to relaxation areas, such as a break room and outdoor spaces.
Flexible working hours have become much more ‘the norm’ since COVID-Increase scheduling flexibility.
Although this is not possible for every business, you can help your staff to create an improved work-life balance by offering scheduling flexibility wherever possible.
Consider flexi-time arrangements, where employees can complete their working hours within a given time frame each week.
Many companies are now considering shorter working weeks or offering part time options and job sharing between staff. Would a 4 day week with longer working days work better for some? Think about what could work for both your business and your staff, and be as open and accommodating as possible with your arrangements.
Provisions for hybrid or fully remote working arrangements are also much more readily available since the pandemic changed the face of the workplace. This could be of benefit to both your company and your workforce, depending on your line of business.
Improve resources and services
As a business, you can offer access to many outside sources of mental healthcare and supports, and other resources. Some of these are free of charge, so you can start taking positive steps without impacting your bottom line.
CIPD provide some useful resources in their factsheets.
Online healthcare services, such as virtual doctor or telephone consultancy are particularly useful as they are quick, affordable, and easy to arrange. It can often be difficult juggling work and home life just to get to a G.P., so this service can really benefit everyone.
Healthcare apps are an alternative low cost option. Additionally, you might support the regular use of wellbeing apps such as meditation, sleep, fitness, and lifestyle apps. These can be a great resource for those who are less comfortable discussing their concerns in person.
When it comes to other supports, you can really think outside the box and consider ideas that will benefit your own team and their individual needs.
Aside from providing access to healthcare, you might offer childcare supports, supply meals/drinks on site, or arrange a regular physical activity such as a fitness class for your group.
The possibilities are endless, so have a chat with your team and see what might work best to support them and reduce their stress.
Mental health education
Education is the key to understanding, and you should start by educating your managers and team leaders. There are plenty of physical and virtual training working shops out there, to provide useful skills to your management team and staff.
Contact an expert such as Mental Health Ireland to find a course that suits your needs.
Above all, employers and their management team should aim to create a company culture of open and honest conversation, encouraging staff to be forthcoming with any concerns or difficulties they may have.
Focus on individuals
Don’t forget the importance of viewing your team as individuals, with their own lives and difficulties outside of the workplace. It can become easy to get caught up in the day to day running of a business and forget this, but a little empathy can go a long way, and your staff will thank you for it.
Actively encourage and promote self care among your team. Getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising are all important for a healthy mind and stress management.
Ensure your staff are receiving and taking regular breaks, and using their annual leave days, to prevent burn out.
Finally, now that the world has opened up again, organise some team building activities planned together with your staff. In some cases, remote working has meant that some staff have never even met each other! It’s beneficial to everyone for your team to get to know each other on a personal level.
Enjoyable team events outside work are more important than ever to create a strong team bond and great communication.
Improved mental health in the workplace is good for us all; business owners, staff, and customers alike. Invest in the health and wellbeing of your workforce, and reap the benefits of a positive impact on your business.
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About the author:
Susan McGuire is originally from London, United Kingdom, and has now lived in Galway, Ireland, for 15 years.
She has been with Retail Solutions for almost 7 of those, and during that time has enjoyed various roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing.
You can follow her on LinkedIn!